CHAPTER 418

FORMERLY

SENATE BILL NO. 567

AS AMENDED BY

SENATE AMENDMENT NOS. 1 & 4

AND

HOUSE AMENDMENT NO. 1

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 15 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO PURPOSE AND MEANING OF ELECTION LAWS, DEFINITIONS OF "POLITICAL PARTY", "PRIMARY ELECTION" AND "UNAFFILIATED CANDIDATE," DEADLINE FOR CHANGE OF PARTY DESIGNATION, BALLOT QUALIFICATIONS, NOTIFICATION AND WITHDRAWAL OF CANDIDACY, REQUIREMENT FOR DIRECT PRIMARY ELECTIONS IN MAJOR POLITICAL PARTIES, NOTIFICATION OF FILING FEES, NOMINATING CONVENTIONS AND FORM OF BALLOTS.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE:

Section 1. Amend Title 15 of the Delaware Code by redesignating Chapter 1 thereof as Chapter 2 and renumbering §102 through §120 inclusively of said Chapter 1 as §201 through §219, respectively, of the new Chapter 2.

Section 2. Amend Chapter 1, Title 15 of the Delaware Code by adding thereto a new §101A to read as follows:

"CHAPTER 1. PURPOSE AND MEANING OF ELECTION LAWS

§101A. Purpose

The purpose of this Title is to assure the people's right to free and equal elections, as guaranteed by our State Constitution. To that end, the full exercise of that right demands that the people be afforded the means to form political parties, nominate candidates and cast ballots for whomever they choose. At the same time, however, lengthy ballots which list a profusion of political parties and unaffiliated candidates, many of which are not serious contenders and lack even a modicum of community support, tend to create voter confusion and to clog the election machinery.

To secure the right to free and equal elections and to preserve the integrity of the democratic political process, it is essential that an orderly system be established:

(1) For the registration of voters and the preservation of voter registration records;

(2) To encourage public participation in political parties and to demonstrate sufficient community support of these parties by permitting voters to affiliate with the party of their choice, if they so desire, on their voter registration records; Section 5. Amend §101, Title 15 of the Delaware Code by inserting a new subparagraph (22) to read as follows:

"(22) 'Unaffiliated candidate' means any individual who files a declaration as a candidate for any office to be decided at the

general election and who is not affiliated with any political party and has not been thus affiliated for at least three (3) months prior to the filing of his declaration."

Section 6. Amend §1749, Chapter 17, Title 15, Delaware Code by designating the paragraph appearing in said section as subsection (a) and by adding a subsection (b) thereto to read as follows:

"(b) The time limitations set forth in subsection (a) of this section shall not prevent a voter from changing his party designation for purposes of qualifying a minor political party for the 1978 General Election ballot pursuant to §3001 of this Title."

Section 7. Amend Part III, Title 15 of the Delaware Code by inserting therein a new Chapter, to be designated as Chapter 30, which shall read as follows:

"CHAPTER 30. BALLOT QUALIFICATIONS §3001. Ballot qualification for political parties

No political party shall be listed on any general election ballot unless, twenty-one (21) days prior to the date of the primary election, there shall be registered in the name of that party a number of voters equal to at least 5/100ths of one percent (0.05%) of the total number of voters registered in the State as of December 31 of the year immediately preceding the general election year.

§3002. Ballot qualifications for unaffiliated candidates

(a) No person shall qualify to appear on the general election ballot of this State as a candidate unaffiliated with a political party unless he fulfills the requirements of this Chapter and is so certifiedby the State Election Commissioner, if a Statewide candidate, or the appropriate county Department of Elections, if not a Statewide candidate.

(b) No individual shall be listed as an unaffiliated candidate on any general election ballot unless he shall have filed, on or before the close of the official business day on September 1 of the general election year, a sworn declaration with the State Election Commissioner, if a Statewide candidate, or the appropriate county department of elections, if a non-Statewide candidate, stating that he is an unaffiliated candidate and has not been affiliated with any political party for at least three (3) months prior to the filing of his declaration, as required by this Title, and shall have filed nominating petitions, as prescribed in this Chapter, and signed by not less than one percent (1%) of the total number of voters registered, as of December 31 of the year immediately preceding the general election year in the State, or if a non-Statewide candidate, of those voters eligible to vote for that office which he seeks.

(c) The nominating petition shall contain such information and be on a form as prescribed by the State Election Commission. The following information shall, however, be contained in the petition:

(1) Name of the unaffiliated candidate and the office for which he is filing.

(2) Signature, printed name, address at which registered, social security number and date on which signed by signer.

(3) A statement that the signer understands that by intentionally entering false information on the petition he may be subject to prosecution for perjury.

(4) A sworn notarized statement of the person circulating the petition that he witnessed the placing of each signature on the petition.

(d) Such petition shall be circulated and executed between January 1 and August 15 of the year in which the general election is held. Each registered voter signing shall do so upon a petition prepared for the county in which he is registered, and the petition shall be filed with the Department of Elections for the county in which the petitioners reside. The signatures and other information thereon shall be verified by the department receiving the petition.

(e) Signatures may be rejected for the following reasons:

1. The signer was not a registered voter on the date he signed the petition.

2. The signer's place of residence or his social security number do not match those appearing in the permanent registration record.

3. The signer did not list his social security number.

4. It appears that the signature is a forgery.

5. The signer's identity cannot be verified because the information and/or signature submitted is illegible, incomplete or obscured.

(f) Where a petition or a part thereof is rejected, the individual submitting same shall have the right to learn the reason(s) for such rejection and an opportunity to examine the signatures rejected."

Section 9. Amend §3101 (2), Chapter 31, Title 15 of the Delaware Code by striking the words "second Friday in August" as they appear twice in said subparagraph and substituting in lieu thereof the words "first Friday in August".

Section 10. Amend §3101A, Chapter 31, Title 15 of the Delaware Code by striking the words "all political parties" and substituting in lieu thereof the words "all major political parties".

Section 11. Amend §3103 (c), Chapter 31, Title 15 of the Delaware Code by striking the last sentence of said subsection which reads:

"The notification shall be prior to the dates set for candidates to file for nomination pursuant to §3101 of this title" and substituting in lieu thereof this sentence: "The notification shall be no later than July 1 of each general election year."

Section 12. Amend §3301 (b), Title 15 of the Delaware Code by adding to said subsection the following paragraph:

"In the case of minor political parties, not required to select candidates pursuant to Chapter 31 of this Title, candidates shall•be selected at each party's county nominating convention."

Section 13. Amend §3301 (d)(1), Title 15 of the Delaware Code by striking the word "July" as it appears in said subparagraph and substituting in lieu thereof the word "August".

Section 14. Amend §4502 (a), Title 15 of the Delaware Code by adding thereto the following:

"The names of unaffiliated candidates shall appear in alphabetical order, under the heading 'Unaffiliated Candidates', after the listing of various political parties. Where there are more political parties and unaffiliated candidates than can be accommodated in parallel columns on the voting machine and/or absentee ballot, names of political party candidates or unaffiliated candidates may be placed in the same column, in such manner as may be determined by each county department of elections."

Approved July 8, 1978.